Preparing English Learners for Work and Career Pathways: Issue Brief

This issue brief, one of the resources in the suite of materials “Preparing English Learners for Work and Career,” provides teachers and administrators with an overview of current research and practice related to connecting English language acquisition to career pathways.

Heide Wrigley
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
LiteracyWork International
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type

In the United States, as elsewhere, there is an increasing demand for job-driven adult education that teaches adults the skills needed for work. In many cases, education that prepares adults for employment opportunities calls for collaborative relationships between training providers, such as community colleges that offer career pathways, and adult education programs that focus on English language acquisition (ELA). This Brief provides an overview of current research and practice in career focused contextualization.  Although the Brief can be used as a stand-alone resource, it also provides the foundation to the other resources in the suite of materials “Preparing English Learners for Work and Career.”

Benefits and Uses

The benefits and uses section will include the:

  • Reasons the resource has implications for the adult education field;
  • Resource’s potential use; and,
  • Most significant or useful features to the target audience(s).

Despite the increasing numbers of immigrants in the workforce and the success of recent models designed to transition basic skills students to better jobs and training in postsecondary institutions, little guidance has been available on how to adapt these ideas for programs serving English learners preparing for work and careers.

The Issue Brief provides teachers and administrators with practical ideas and presents a broad overview of considerations for connecting ELA to career pathways. It serves as an introduction to the topic of career-focused contextualized instruction that teachers and administrators can use as a springboard to additional in-depth resources on this topic. Program models designed to strengthen the alignment of adult education, employment, and skills training, such as bridge programs, programs offering concurrent enrollment, and models for integrating technical skills and related language and literacy skills through team teaching, are described. It offers ideas for engaging employers. The section on instructional strategies outlines the skills that ELLs need to succeed at work and in postsecondary education and offers ideas for adapting language teaching strategies to foster the skills needed for success in career pathways.

The Issue Brief can serve as an introduction to its Companion Learning Resource or as a stand-alone overview of the topic.

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